Random thoughts of a naturalist

Published 8:29 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2015

By Susan and Biff Andrews

A truly large oak tree shadowing an old farmhouse gives meaning to the phrase “old friend.”

Can you imagine all we don’t see because we don’t have night vision? On the other hand, we see colors that cats and raccoons can’t. Who’s ahead on points?

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If you don’t believe that dogs are man’s best friend, you must not have one. At least not a golden retriever.

Magnolia trees should never be trimmed up; they should spread widest at the ground. Hides the mess, too.

Stink bugs do, but only when squashed.

I’m sure God had a purpose in creating mayflies and oyster toads, but I’m not wise enough to what that may be.

A neighbor who gives you a gallon bag of shelled butter beans is a saint.

Pigeons are rats with wings. Why have you never seen a “baby” pigeon? They grow so fast a five-day-old bird is the size of an adult.

Anybody who loves Nature needs to be a mentor to kids. Otherwise, the breed may die out.

If you’ve never been offshore heading home with a setting sun track of light on the water ahead of you and a rising moon track of light behind you … well, you’ve missed a religious experience.

No natural beach is ever the same two days in a row.

I just saw a huge cardinal. Impressive. But a truly gorgeous cardinal sighting needs a snowy background.

I’d like to be reincarnated as a dolphin … or an otter … or an osprey … or ….

The green on a male mallard’s head went past iridescent a long ways back.

Mountain laurel, rhododendrons and redbuds are gorgeous every spring hereabouts, but they’re best viewed in the mountains.

Gardenias and lily of the valley and hyacinths are proof that God meant to give us a sense of smell.

And the infinite variety of heirloom and designer tomatoes are proof that God meant us to have a sense of taste. Tomatoes and mayo in summer are truly wonderful, made fantastic if you add a crisp soft-shelled crab.

Imagine living in Kansas. Then thank God you were born in Virginia — with mountains and seashore, apples and crabs, dogwoods and sea oats growing wild. Sigh.

My wonderful neighbor is from the Philippines. She eats her elephant ears at the end of the season. “Chacun a son gout.”

OK, quick! Which is better — Smithfield ham or Crab Norfolk? Gotcha! Mother Nature is my friend.

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at b.andrews22@live.com.